Wayne: Hunter-Harvill, Vaughn win DPS board seats
Detroit — Voters in Michigan's largest school district chose incumbent Deborah Hunter-Harvill and Bishop Corletta J. Vaughn to fill two seats on the Detroit Board of Education.
With all precincts reporting, Hunter-Harvill led the field of eight candidates with 16.4 percent of the vote, with Vaughn receiving 13.7 percent. Close behind in third place was former school board member Reverend David Murray with 13.09 percent, followed by Shannon Smith with 13.06 percent.
The winners among the eight candidates will serve four-year terms beginning Jan. 1.
This was the second election for the Detroit school board, the first being in 2016 when all eight current members were elected to terms starting Jan. 1, 2017. The field in the 2016 election had 63 candidates.
The district faces several challenges: its drinking water is tainted with lead and copper, it has $500 million in needed infrastructure repairs and its teacher shortage is around 200 positions.
In other Wayne County voting, incumbent county executive Warren Evans was re-elected to a second term.
Vaughn, 64, is a Cass Technical High School graduate, bishop and community activist.
Hunter-Harvill, 62, is a current DPSCD board member and chair of the board's academics and curriculum committee.
"It was a great day," Hunter-Harvill said Tuesday evening. "You know what was the best part for me was I ran into five of my students. I used to be a principal in the district. I got a chance to see what they're doing. They have kids. I felt really good. I thought it was a great voter turn out."
Hunter-Harvill said one of her focuses is getting teachers and administrators trained on the district's new curriculum series.
"We’re on the bottom nationally," she said. "I want them to get comfortable about our new curriculum so we can move forward. I want to increase achievement. I want to get back to work on what we can do with our infrastructure in terms of our really old buildings... There’s so much I want to be engaged in. I hope I have a chance."
Other school board candidates were:
♦Terrell George, 35, the head football and basketball coach at Paul Robeson Malcolm X Academy.
♦Natalya Henderson, 20, a graduate of Cass Tech High School, Greenleaf Trust Scholar and a Forbes Under 30 Elite member and fellow,
♦Murray, 65, a Mumford High school graduate who ran for DPSCD board in 2016.
♦Britney Sharp, 28, a graduate of King High School who is an entrepreneur and event organizer.
♦Smith, 28, a graduate of King High School who has worked for the Federal Reserve, for the Detroit City Council as a legislative assistant and community advocate and for nonprofits.
♦Melinda Murray, brother of Reverend David Murrary.
In the county executive's race, Evans, a Democrat, was challenged in his bid for a second term by Republican Denis Curran.
With nearly all precincts reporting, Evans had 74.3 percent of the votes to Curran's 26.1 percent.
"The first four years were recovery," Evans said Tuesday evening. "I really see the next four years as rebuild. We certainly want to finish the criminal justice complex and have it up and running. Not only up and running, be built and staffed in a way that’s inclusive of everybody."
During his first term, Evans said his team erased a structural deficit of $52 million, an accumulate deficit of $82 million and about a billion in unfunded liability in health care by restructuring health care benefits.
The county has had three years of balanced budgets.
"We’re now anticipating a fourth with surpluses that have been used to pay against those unfunded liabilities so we can reduce our liabilities in both pensions and health care," he said. "It’s worked very well. We’re not totally out of the water. We're not 80 percent funded in pensions like we ought to be, but we’re 20 percent higher than when I took office and that’s significant."
Evans said he'd like to see upgrades to county parks with connectivity to city parks and the Huron-Clinton Metroparks.
Curran, a retired mechanical engineer from Livonia, said Tuesday evening that he ran for the office to represent the Republican platform. He said his focus was on financial responsibility. He took issue with the way the county handles its roads.
"As far as that money is being spent, I feel there could be some improvement," he said.
Voters in communities across Wayne County faced a variety of tax requests. Among them:
Voters in the Dearborn school district said yes to renewing a 1-mill operating levy for Henry Ford College for five years.
The Grosse Pointe Public Schools won approval of a $111 million bond issue for building additions, and security and technology upgrades, with an estimated annual rate of 2.21 mills over 21 years.
Wayne-Westland Community Schools voters backed a $158 million bond issue for facility additions and renovations, technology upgrades and bus purchases, with an estimated annual rate of 4.38 mills over 25 years.
Voters in the Wayne County Community College District approved a 2.25-mill replacement levy for operations, which would raise an estimated $46.5 million in 2019.
Grosse Ile Township voters said no to a 2-mill increase over 12 years for road improvements and maintenance. The tax would have generated an estimated $1.2 million in its first year.